Cherryleaf: Technical Authoring is Alive and Well across The Pond

Introduction

When I visited Cherryleaf to start my review on a recent Sunday morning, I immediately encountered a problem. Right there on the landing page a broken image that was supposed to be a Venn diagram disrupted my visit. I composed an email to Cherryleaf and sent it off. I included a screenshot of the broken image and mentioned the browser I was using.

I do this sort of thing all the time, and, sad to say, my messages don’t always get a response. The broken elements about which I try to communicate don’t always get fixed, either. (Yes, I go back and check.) Sometimes the errors I mention do get fixed, but no one responds to my email with a thank you.

This wasn’t the case, however, with Cherryleaf. Ellis Pratt, who runs Cherryleaf, responded quickly, apologized, and said they’d work on fixing the image. And they did, indeed, fix it. Well done!

One more item before we get to the meat of things here. I visited this blog back in 2006, when I began technical writing. Cherryleaf offers seminars, and I came across one they were giving called something like Technical Writing for Beginners. The price, although given in Pounds Sterling, seemed right. I was interested in taking the class. I emailed them, asking if the seminar would be given using GoToMeeting or another online technology, and, as you might have guessed, this class was being held onsite at Cherryleaf in London. Oops! I still laugh about that today.

Cherryleaf offers a clean and simple layout featuring a white background highlighted by their green logo and a green banner menu.

The menu across the top offers no-nonsense sections:

These major sections sometimes point to subcategories as well. This menu is deep, multilayered, and changes over time. So  if you visit the website, keep in mind that “your results may vary.” Cherryleaf appears to offer a range of services just as multilayered as their navigation. No matter your technical authoring need, they have a service to fill that need.

Blog

The blog portion of Cherryleaf displays in the center column. The chunks of text are not dated or hyperlinked to other pages, but have headlines that focus on what Cherryleaf can do for you and why Cherryleaf is the best solution for your documentation needs. These pieces of information are normal typeface. They are not screaming HIRE US, but instead the sales copy discusses your needs calmly and dispassionately. Examples of these headlines include:

  • You reduce costs when users solve problems for themselves
  • Problem-solving information attracts prospects, too
  • You work hard to win your customers. Don’t let them down with poor information.

They also list their services, with each service accompanied a simple-black and-white pictograph representing that service.

  • Have content written for you
  • Training courses
  • Recruit a Technical Author
  • Consultancy

Conclusion

Cherryleaf is a business hub for technical authoring in the UK. It is not meant as a stopover for someone based in America to read up enough to land a job as a technical writer. Sure, you can learn in conjunction with Cherryleaf, provided you are a UK resident, but you’re going to pay for the courses. If I lived in London and worked as a technical writer, I would look into the Cherryleaf courses. If you’re looking for a freebie crash-course on “How to Become a Technical Writer,” you will need to look elsewhere. If you do business in the UK, and your business involves equipment or processes that require documentation, Cherryleaf could certainly help you.

Cherryleaf is all business. The website itself is loaded with information and generous with white space, but spare on images. The owner, Ellis Pratt, appears in a shirt and tie worthy of IBM in the old days. I dress for work in jeans and a T-shirt. Mr. Pratt might have a stroke if he saw how I and many others dress for the office over here! But the shirt and tie Mr. Pratt wears signifies how seriously he takes the business of technical authoring.

Need one person for a week? Cherryleaf has got you covered. Need to bring a whole team of technical authors for six months for a large documentation project? Done. Desperate to have someone else manage this team other than one of your already overworked staff? Done. If I lived and worked as a technical author in London, I know I would sign up with Cherryleaf right away. My problem would be finding my suit and dress shoes!

Have a job-related or tech comm website you’d like me to review? Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at craig.cardimon@gmail.com. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.


Ellis Pratt

5 months ago

Well that was unexpected. Thank you for the review. It’s always interesting discovering how others see you.

The dress code – it’s tricky. In our offices, it’s very informal (a lot of merino wool t-shirts). When we’re meeting prospects and clients, we want to show we’re professional. So this means office shirts and sports jackets – certainly at the beginning. Ties have fallen out of favour.

Actually, I’m not the only one who runs Cherryleaf – there’s another boss, Ginny Critcher, who operates more behind the scenes. She doesn’t have a tie, which is possibly why you see less of her ;-)

The website will be getting a revamp in the next few weeks, so you’re likely to see more colour and imagery on the site. I haven’t seen the prototypes yet, but I think the site structure will stay the same.

About half the people who visit our site are based outside of the UK. We now have online courses in technical communication, partly so that we have something to offer them. These days we have delegates from around the world.

If you’re looking for a freebie crash-course on “How to Become a Technical Writer, it’s true we don’t have a free course,. We do, however, have free advice on that topic on the Cherryleaf Podcast. http://cherryleaf.podbean.com/e/starting-a-career-as-a-technical-author/

The email address is set up in a way to avoid bots scraping it and adding to to mailing lists. That’s why it looks odd when you’re looking at the HTML code. Hopefully, it’s not putting anyone off contacting us.

Once again, thanks for the review!